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Are The Studios Trying To Kill Blu-Ray?

Posted on Monday September 2, 2013, 15:00 by Helen O'Hara in Empire States
Are The Studios Trying To Kill Blu-Ray?

The standard-issue Star Trek Into Darkness Blu-ray comes with a mere seven featurettes in the US. But there’s much more content out there! Buy the movie from iTunes and you get the director’s commentary; buy it from BestBuy (or Sainsburys, in the UK) and you get another selection of exclusive extras; buy it from Target and you get a few more. If you’re a US completist, in other words, you’re going to need quite a few copies. Here in the UK, it appears that we get six featurettes, and if you want the commentary there's a code for you to download it free from iTunes. People are riled, and on some level one has to wonder: are the studios intentionally throwing Blu-ray under a bus? Have they given up on the format?

This isn’t the first time this has happened with a major release. Avengers had extra bells and whistles at Bestbuy and Walmart, but those were slightly less essential extras than a commentary (the fact that the UK’s still waiting for Whedon’s commentary on that title is another disgrace). If you’re a film fan and could only choose one feature, chances are it would be the commentary, so this drive to make that a hard-to-get rarity is – frankly – a terrible one. In a very good recent article on the movie Clue, director Jonathan Lynn mentions that he offered to record a commentary for its Blu-ray release and was turned down by the studio. The upcoming Jack Ryan DVD box-set, in the UK, is available as a three-film set, but if you want The Sum Of All Fears included you have to buy it from Sainsburys (or you can buy that separately on Blu-ray). But that box set apparently doesn't have any extras, despite the fact that extras exist on previous versions of the films. And why not put it on Blu-ray?

This all seems, as an enthusiastic Blu-ray consumer, like a pretty terrible idea. For the clued-up consumer, this does not look like an opportunity to get cool extras by buying from a particular retailer; it looks like an inferior product going on general release.

So we have to assume that the studio isn’t trying to sell to a clued-up consumer. They’re trying to sell to a casual shopper who sees the title and “exclusive extras” and hopefully feels compelled to buy it on the spot. The highest-quality, highest-priced way of owning a film on the market is now being aimed at people who don’t have a strong opinion on the matter. It looks like some desperate person in marketing is trying to win the masses over to Blu-ray, but losing the hardcore by doing so is surely a bad long-term strategy.

You see, there’s an argument, a fairly strong one, that physical media are dying. Between download and streaming services, there’s no longer any need to have shelves full of discs in order to have all your favourite film and TV shows handy. If you just want the film, after all, you get it from your streaming service.

Blu-rays were, at least partly, a response to this, an all-singing, all-dancing high-definition upgrade to DVDs that would be the last word in quality and completism for AV nerds and geeks alike. They were the special-edition, leather-bound hardback book of the movie, a beautifully presented and utterly comprehensive take on the film. Sometimes they came in gorgeous containers with bonus physical extras (booklets, posters, even T-shirts or collectable figures). BD Live was an online download service originally designed to allow special material to be updated and expanded as time went on, so that you’d be completely covered. The studios tried to replicate what they did so successfully when VHS gave way to DVD; they sold the format on its higher picture and sound quality, its bells and whistles that any self-respecting film fan needs to have.

But from the start, Blu-ray’s been a neglected stepchild for the studios. That much bragged-about disc capacity is barely filled in many cases, with DVD extras or none at all. Some big, modern films didn't even bother making their extras in hi-definition for the format. Meanwhile, BD Live was almost entirely ignored by the studios, who instead entered the familiar cycle of launching period “special” and “ultimate” editions to keep keen fans buying multiple copies. Instead of playing to Blu-ray’s strengths, the studios apparently expected to treat it almost exactly like DVD and hope that no one would notice. And when Blu-ray failed to take off to quite the same extent (largely because of that failure to differentiate it but partly because the economy went off the cliff at just the moment that Blu-ray should have gone bananas), they apparently gave up on all that promised support for the format and seemed to stop investing in it.

As a result, those who don’t really care about extras have largely written Blu-ray off, not quite getting the point of upgrading beyond the perfectly OK DVD picture quality (for quite some time, studios wouldn’t even provide side-by-side picture comparisons to prove the advantages of Blu-ray - and given that Blu ray players and most modern DVD players upgrade the DVD picture, it's not even that apparent in all cases). Those people are now downloading films, and chances are that they’ll never go back to discs. So why piss off the hardcore fans who might still buy the format?

Maybe one reason is that big retailers increasingly have a stranglehold on product; they’re doing with film what they’ve done for years with groceries. With the big retailers online and off driving independent sellers out of business, the few behemoths left in the market have more and more leverage over the product they sell, because there’s no viable alternative to them. The studios apparently hope that, by making deals to provide more and more exclusives to these sellers, they’ll get prime placements in store, hook casual shoppers on Blu-ray and increase the consumer base. But if the effect is to alienate your hardcore fans and provide a product with little visible advantage over the much cheaper DVD / download options to convert those casual buyers, it seems like a short-term measure at best. About 50 percent of sales of new titles last year were on Blu-ray as opposed to DVD; if they hope to increase that to the vital 70 percent (the approximate level where an old format gets phased out) they need to sell Blu-ray better than this.

If the studios really want to stave off the decline of physical media, the way to do it is to make their Blu-rays really, really good. If you must give exclusive content to certain retailers, make it optional curlicues rather than commentaries and core featurettes. Make Blu-rays the essential format for any film you really love, make them gorgeous and complete things that become status symbols. That’s the best and only way to get, and keep, a mass-market in the medium or even short term. Right now all they’re doing is driving the format off a cliff.

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Comments

1 durelius
Posted on Tuesday September 3, 2013, 18:52
I hardly ever buy a film on release nowadays as you have this very issue with film coming out and having very little extras and I find that a couple of months down the line there is another version that's much better. the reason I buy on Blu-ray is due to the quality obviously and the added bonuses, I buy because I saw the film at the cinema and liked it enough to want it to watch again and find out about the creative side of things. So don't fob me off with some cheap ass repeated talking heads docs, give me all those extras and interesting bits of info and I'll buy your film. Just got the Alien Quadrilogy on Blu-ray now that's how you sell your films.

2 crazyben66
Posted on Tuesday September 3, 2013, 19:26
I used to be a pretty avid collector; I have a collection of over 800 DVDs and 150 blu-rays, mostly special editions. I'd pay extra for the steelbooks, and the tins, and the digi-pack editions with 5 extra discs. Recently, I've barely bought anything.

The answer to the big 'why?' question is Netflix. Everything is on there. Everything. And what isn't, can be found on Now TV, or LoveFilm, or it's on TV. I buy a few films here and there but not nearly in the volume I used to because mainly, as a student, I can't justify spending £15 on a blu-ray when I have a gazillion other movies at my fingertips for no extra money at all.

I think the near-death of HMV showed us that home entertainment is at least starting to decline. Especially with iTunes offering exclusives for digital download, and in the US, so many films hitting VOD before/during/just after theatres. It put most people into this relaxed VOD way of thinking.

Great article though, the decline of the special features is saddening. The amount of times I've flicked through EVERYTHING on the Scott Pilgrim blu-ray is astounding. Can't believe that we might soon have to live without them. They turn a 2 hour movie into an evening-long experience.

3 TPM007
Posted on Tuesday September 3, 2013, 22:44
Great article - but it aint just extras - take Die Hard 4 for example - the 'extended' and far superior cut of the film is only available on DVD - instead we have the watered down edition on Blu. They had the ideal opportunity to do a re-release of it when the dire 5th film came out... which they did - but without the extended cut! The current Blu Ray for the film looks awesome, but goddamn it, if I want to watch the best version of the film, I have to watch it in, urgh, 'standard definition'...

4 Garth_Marenghi
Posted on Tuesday September 3, 2013, 22:59
Since I became broke like most people, I rent things I'm mildly curious about or stream them on LoveFilm, whereas when DVD first took off (and I had more cash) I used to buy loads of films in the sales, taking a risk on movies I hadn't seen before. Now I only buy blu-rays of films I know I love, and it's the extras and the packaging that make these purchases worthwhile. Streaming can often be a pain if your internet isn't flawlessly fast (I haven't been able to watch any movies on LoveFilm this week because the crappy phonelines in my area have decided to have a little huff). This doesn't happen with physical media. When the rights to a movie have lapsed and it disappears off your streaming service, my DVD or blu-ray is still there on the shelf. I can watch it whenever I like regardless of what state my internet connection is in. But if a film has nothing on it but a puff-piece PR featurette lasting 12 minutes, then I'm not going to buy it. The incoming Ultra HD/4K format might be the saviour of physical media. If you can't always guarantee flawless streaming of standard definition material, then how many years is it going to be before 4K is workable for most of us? The new Ultra Blu-ray format Sony & Panasonic are working on is something to be excited about then. Except I'm going to have to buy yet another version of the Final Cut of Blade Runner in a couple of years...

5 Mulholland Empire
Posted on Tuesday September 3, 2013, 23:24
Thank you Empire, this has needed saying for a while. I have been buying Blu-ray's since I got a PS3 in 2007 and absolutely love the format. It is such a shame to see it becoming neglected.
I appreciate that pretty much anything can be streamed these days but I like to be able to see my film collection all lined up on the shelf.

Stephen King recently refused to allow a novel to be released as an e-book as he felt the print medium was where books belong. One journalist wrote about book signings "you can't sign a kindle"

6 juangaz
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 08:46
This made me chuckle a "disgrace"! It's so obvious Helen you are obsessed with the Avengers and Whedon, you can practically feel the hormones on every podcast - get a grip, or indeed a man for gods sake....

7 filmburner30
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 09:33
What is working with Blu ray are labels such as Arrow Video and the BFI flipside series they are packing there discs with special features and different cuts of the film

For example Arrow Video has all the cuts of Mario Bavas Lisa and the devil and the package for these discs are outstanding .

In the case of the BFI they have both cuts of Cassavetes Killing Of a Chinese bookie which has the longer 1976 cut and the paired down 1978 version.

If Blu ray is to survive then this is the way forward .

8 Whistler
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 09:58
I was really disappointed with the extra features on the Django Unchained blu-ray. It had a little feature on the stunts and a bit about costumes and the soundtrack, but that was it. No commentary, no proper behind-the-scenes stuff, no interviews. And this wasn't just the blu-ray - it was the special edition steelbook.

We need LOTR type special features back.

9 grahamh_100
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 10:16
Thank you so much for posting this! I thoroughly agree. There are certain titles I simply haven't picked up yet, because it's hard to enough of figure out which version to get - let alone which country to get it from. This practice of differentiate extras for different regions is absolutely ridiculous (every Disney Blu-ray I get comes from the USA, the French had an exclusive doc on Indiana Jones...).

It almost seems part of this current trend of faux-fandom. Real fans of something want that perfect, deluxe, bells and whistles filled version - but rather than do a bang-up job of the Blu-ray, studios would rather throw money at paying to fly stars out to San Diego and shout about their upcoming movies to faux-fans.

I don't know, this whole Blu-ray extras is issue is beyond frustrating and is doing an excellent job of killing the format.

10 marlowe9
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 10:28
Fantastic article, Helen. But I do have one bone of contention.

You talk about DVDs as if they're considerably cheaper than Blu-Rays and consequently discouraging BR sales. I beg to differ - as an avid DVD collector (sorry, no Blu-Ray for me because I could never, and still can't, afford the HDTV/BR player combo) I can authoritatively say that DVDs are massively, discouragingly overpriced. I don't buy new release DVDs any more, because they're invariably between £9.99 and £20, with truly paltry extras - often it's just the online featurettes that were freely available as part of the marketing, or a music video, or nothing. Like you say, commentaries are incresingly rare. DVD buyers have been well and truly shafted on 99% of studio DVD releases since the advent of Blu-Ray. This is clearly because the studios are trying to encourage Blu-Ray sales by loading all the good extras onto the HD format. This gets my goat because I still remember the heady days just before Blu-Ray came out, when vanilla releases of new studio films had become unthinkable and prices were surprisingly reasonable, especially given the high quality extra content that was on offer. Now, DVD buyers pay at least £10 for a new release, and they're insultingly devoid of extras. Even the retailer-exclusive content is more often than not a crock of shit.

To counteract this, I limit myself to buying older DVD releases, either out-of-print editions with juicy extras or just extra-lite studio films a few years down the line, when demand has pushed the price to under £5 (preferably under £3 - god bless Fopp). That said, there's an increasingly HUGE number of BRs which are £10 or under, and older releases which are £5 or under. My point is, that most BRs in circulation are the same prices as DVDs, but with much better value for money.

But I completely understand and agree with your argument above. Studios aren't investing enough in Blu-Ray; they're putting even less into DVD. And it's utterly shameful.

11 abaddon
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 10:57
I only buy 3D Blu Ray as my Blu Ray player upscales my DVDs

12 Stanley Mann
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 13:51
Very good points you make there, Helen - and well worth pointing out .
I myself have always been a fan of having the films I truly enjoy and want to rewatch as a physical collection. Part of the joy is actually watching them lined up and remembering them, pointing them out, talking about them with other people or even loan them.
I still buy the odd DVD but mostly second hand, since there is a good market for that right now where you can often get films that are not out (yet?) on Bluray or even are editions of note with great extras. All my other purchases are on Bluray, usually through Amazon where I make a list of films to purchase when they go down in price and they got good reviews on bluray.com or Hi Def Digest. I am actually proud of that collection and want to continue building it, and the declines in interest in the format really saddens me.
I do believe BluRay might a part of the solution to preserving films physically, as the format is as close as can be to the original film/digital file in a format available to the consumer - it is therefore important to keep promoting this format as well. Hardcore film lovers, unite ;)!

13 ado123
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 14:29
Well, your assumptions are entirely wrong. BD Disc sales are up, way up - as in 15% over the same quarter a year ago. And home purchase of equipment is up also- I would paste links but my last post was shot down.

Movie lovers love the film, I view the bonus material as just that - extra. The primary thing is the perfect version of the movie on Blu Ray. Now if the extras are good - then great, if not, then I still have the film.

ST ID is a big mess, but it is not Paramount doing it, I was told that Bad Robot had total control over the special features, and made deals with Target, Apple and Best Buy that made this gigantic marketing mess. I would thing that once people complain Paramount will not allow this to happen again.

Disc sales are highly profitable for studios, more than streaming or downloads, it is not at all in the interests of studios to kill discs, and the consumers love them. The concerns about the future of BluRay Discs is not valid, we have 8 - 10 years in them ahead. Only when we have the catalog remastered in 4k, and reasonably priced 4k home equipment will we see a new media format that might replace BluRay, and even then the turnaround adoption of 4k is going to take a similarly long time, 5 or 6 years.

14 ghekkomanic
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 16:14
Studios have driven down cost of blu-ray production so much that they claim not to have the budget to produce extras-laden discs. BD live was one casualty of this, but distributors refusing to record commentaries from willing filmmakers and not paying for rights for extras which were on the DVD are undoubtedly others. I saw it myself working at a DVD/BD production facility. How much of this is to do with supermarkets dictating prices I don't know, but there certainly wasn't the money flowing into blu-ray production the same way as DVD when that format was in its infancy.

As someone who has avidly collected over 1000 DVDs and 500-odd blu-rays I can see things shifting to streaming. Only a matter of time.

15 __Red__
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 16:48
I, for one, will never subscribe to netflix, lovefilm and all the countless other streaming subscriptions that are on offer. I have a very healthy DVD and BluRay collection that I've built up over the years and there is nothing better than having a physical disk lined up on a shelf readily available when the mood strikes, not to mention the superior quality of both sound and picture compared to what is streamed. Streaming is great for the casual movie goers who dont care about having the best quality when watching some random movie on a friday night in or on the move on a laptop/phone.

I also do miss some of the great boxsets and special editions of the past that used to be common place across a lot of the big films with all the special features - the criterion collections etc - although sometimes going a bit overboard with the number of different boxsets that would come out over time (star wars, blade runner anyone!!). I will revolt against the film industry if they take away the physical media. There is a market for both physical and streaming/downloading but by ignoring the proper film enthusiasts who want the special features and superior quality on their physical media (where it belongs) will just piss off a lot of people.

The cost of blurays nowadays in some cases is still quite high especially 3D films and films that come with no features whatsoever but I for one would pay a smidgen extra for the extra features. I always have done in the past and would continue to do so. I still purchase movies from the US as sometimes you get some great editions, the avengers a good example (Helen's right on that its shocking we didnt get that over here).

16 faulknerdrummer
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 18:52
I agree that the only way for blu-ray to survive the increasing shift to online media is to make them the definitive, highest possible quality version of the film.

However I think the fundamental problem is that for a lot of films, people don't need that. People will only invest in a top quality format for films that benefit from having the HD, that is films that rely heavily on visuals. There is absolutely no point in having Love Actually on blu-ray. None.

17 Jtully
Posted on Wednesday September 4, 2013, 19:10
This article sums up my feeling on the format. I often buy blu-rays just for the extras. Recent example being the Jaws steelbook, just to watch the documentaries, I seen the film a million times but will watch it again when I feel like it. I also boycotted Prometheus because Fox made it so the only way to get all the bonus features was to buy the 3D version. I have no need or desire for the 3D version and resented being forced to pay extra for the release - so I skipped it.

I used to be an avid purchaser of new releases, at least 2 per week, but now I'd guess that's gone down to 1 every couple of months. I still love physical media and want to own the films but the releases aren't inspiring me to do so. I always check the extras before purchasing and if they look on the skimpy side, then I'll wait for a proper release or until the inferior release is cheap. I still haven't bought the Hobbit because I'm waiting for the all singin, all dancing edition.

I also have netflix, but I don't see it as a viable alternative to physical media. It's just a bonus to catch up on some films or TV. Maybe its part of my generation but I would never pay for a download of a film, I would rather pay a little extra (or sometimes less!) for the actual product.

Just wanted to add my two penneth as a once avid but now jaded purchaser of Blu-rays. As a note to the studios - I am totally prepared to be won back! Release great sets and I'll be there with my wallet on day one. This only happens now with great catalogue re-issues rather than brand new releases.

18 FoxDhoj
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 01:59
The main problem is the big studios - in this country, companies like Eureka, the BFI, Artificial Eye and Arrow Films are spearheading high quality home entertainment. Here and there the studios get something right - you can't say Star Trek Into Darkness looks bad quality-wise, nor that they had sold DVD's with a severe lack of extras in the past. But yes, there is a strange negligence of something extra - take for example the transfer of O Brother Where Art Thou on blu-ray that came out recently. It's a much-loved Coen Brothers film, and much like their filmography (save a recent few, but mainly True Grit) it has a higher quality transfer...but that's it. No extras whatsoever. No extras on the Chinatown blu-ray I bought, nor the Walkabout one. I think the big studios seem to think PQ and AQ count for more than extras, but as collectors we really do notice - it's called 'bare-bones', and it means we consider for a second NOT to buy a new release if it isn't given the full treatment. Paramount should be ashamed about Into Darkness, just as they should with the first Star Trek - it's very difficult to find the bonus-disc edition of the first Abrams film so most people are stuck with the 1-disc (like me).

The thing about 'streaming' and 'downloading' for me is - I do it, I admit. I illegally download music and TV shows and films I'm not sure I want. But I contribute more to the film (and music) community than anyone else I know - I buy blu-ray, DVD, CD, vinyl, cassette, cinema tickets, festival tickets on a constant basis. I invest in the things I enjoy, and explore the stuff I might consider buying (hence the downloading). But Netflix doesn't have every film I want on there, nor is the streaming fully consistent like a blu-ray is. On-demand TV and film is just like Spotify - uninteresting and impersonal, and a record collection is interesting and personal. Same goes for my film collection. The music industry said 'vinyl is dead', but a superior format lives on.

19 FoxDhoj
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 02:12
Also I just want to say the filmmaker should be involved as much as the studio - their voice can be heard when a film is heading towards the home video market, especially if their film was critically acclaimed or a box-office success. They should be interested in the legacy of the films they make, and as much as they would love everybody to see their films in the cinema for all eternity, the powers that be have made that unaffordable as a primary lifestyle choice (i.e. we don't go to see Taxi Driver at the cinema every time we want to because we have the blu-ray, DVD or VHS). They must be able to have a say in how their film is presented to the public - the public who their film is for, and who will love the film and invest in the experience and own it for themselves. Therefore the director should press for commentaries, unique special features, and even packaging graphics and menu design. If they can't at least oversee that then they clearly don't care about their audience as much as I'd expect them to. I remember when Children Of Men came out on DVD, and Alfonso Cuaron was concerned by the lack of extras on the regular DVD, so in an issue of Empire there was a recall for the DVD to be sent back to the studio and replaced (free of charge) with a 2-disc special edition with tons of special features. That is the kind of attitude I respect in regards to this matter - a filmmaker speaking for his admirers and making sure they get what they want, whilst reminding the studio who they're catering to. It's a real shame some of the best releases this year got lazy packages on blu-ray - not just blockbusters, but films like Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty. I'm guessing Soderbergh said something to the studio 'cause Side Effects had a good range of extras (for once). Gilliam oversaw a remaster of Time Bandits this year, and it's never looked better - I was actually gawping at how good that film looks...I'd only ever seen it on a scruffy DVD before! Love your viewers.

20 FoxDhoj
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 02:30
One last thing - are you kidding me with UltraViolet and Digital Copies? I'm a 22 year old male (still technically a 'young person') and really despise this culture of watching a film on your iPhone or iPad or whatever that's supposed to appeal to people my age. I watch films on my laptop only if I really have to and not out of choice - whenever I can, I will use the blu-ray player or the Xbox and watch it on a bigger screen. Do people forget that they saw these films in cinemas with screens the size of their house? I sell my UV copies and people actually pay money for them - to me that's crazy, and they're not even HD quality, in fact a DVD would be better quality (and most laptops have a disc drive...unless you buy a Macbook Air of course). I admit I maybe shouldn't have sold the Into Darkness code as it came with a commentary, but I have plenty of blu-ray extras for other films to keep me entertained. That's besides the point though - I find when I talk to some people, they don't really give their whole attention (or at least most of it) to a film, but still have this assumption that they paid attention - it annoys me as much as people skipping through an album and not taking it in as a start-to-finish process, not having the patience to sit through something perhaps difficult or new to them. Something needs to happen - in an ideal world, I would suggest studios should release through (or at least collaborate with) companies like Eureka/BFI/Artificial Eye/Arrow to produce a better quality product that will hold its value and not end up in the bargain bin at Asda. For every budget horror or critical flop on blu-ray, there should be a Brazil or Big Lebowski remastering in its place. It's a bit like trying to sell raisins to someone who wants grapes.

21 Hugh_Fran
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 03:47
@juangaz Sounds like you are the one who needs to get a grip. Stop your trolling

22 bushwaduk
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 09:29
I consider myself as a casual shopper and an avid film boff/fan. I have never ever decided to buy a movie based on the extras you get withing the disc. To me, they have been meaningless and used as a overused marketing method.

23 spideed2
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 13:15
Love the format and but it really needs to get its act together. In many ways it shares the same problem as 3D, in that people would use it more if the price was closer.

Now I am not suggesting that Blu-ray be the same price but it should be £15 max not £18-£21. That would develop a much larger interest surely.

Secondly the extras almost make more sense on blu-ray as (generalising here), its mainly tech geeks and cinephiles that actually care about the improved image and sound. They are also the people who will sit and watch a 3 hour making of the film.

Mr Joe Public likely doesn't care about the image quality (not as much anyway) and likely wont ever watch the extras so the DVD is a worse place to put them IMO.

Avengers is a great example, the UK version having no extras. The Avatar blu-ray is another example, releasing the movie vanilla when film geeks will go out and buy it first only make sense if you are trying to get people to buy two copies, so its the natural conclusion.

As or Star Trek, whoever split up these features in the name of a USP should be ashamed, this thing goes on a lot in video-games but its sad to see it creep into films too.

24 ado123
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 15:25
I really do not understand that hang up on special features. Most special features you might watch once, maybe, or maybe never. I have tons of discs with special features that I have never watched, and I never will, but they are not that important to me, and sometimes I feel that they ruin the film by telling too much about how it was made.

This whole things here is out of perspective. Blu Ray disc is about the finest quality picture and sound - that is it. It has the best quality in a disc that you can own forever and play when you want. If I love a film and I want it on BluRay and it costs $20 or $25, then fine, it does not bother me.

The amount of special features on that disc has no impact at all (NONE) on me buying my BluRay copy of that movie.

25 Fizzsnap_X
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 15:49
Audio commentaries are the only features I am that bothered about. But cool packaging is the thing most likely to make me buy a copy ie steelbook packaging.

26 clarkkent
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 18:23
They aren't trying to kill blu-ray, they're trying to make the most money out of the dwindling home release market, and the best way to do this is offer different retailers different exclusive incentives at a premium.

When you hear hooves, it's usually horses, and rarely ever zebras.

27 sipi
Posted on Thursday September 5, 2013, 23:19
I don't know if I actually would be studying film now if it weren't for all the amazing featurettes I watched on DVDs growing up. It's a shame to think that they might be a dying breed.

28 Silvio Mugabe
Posted on Friday September 6, 2013, 11:46
Like others have stated here - it is about time this is addressed. People will not exclusively turn to ligitimate digital sites if they can download it somewhere for free. The physical copy has always been a good sales strategy to collect loyal fans and casual buyers. They are being very short sighted and greedy.

29 KeithyT77
Posted on Friday September 6, 2013, 13:09
I prefer to own the physical film. The quality is better and it is readily available. I still like to go to my local Video Store and peruse the titles, read the covers, and chat to the guy behind the counter about what's good and what's not. With online downloads, you don't get the exercise of strolling around the shop (albeit not a lot), you don't get the interaction, and you still pay alot in subscription charges, the internet cost itself, etc.
I hope Blu Ray continues as a format. I don't like the exclusivity with the Special Features though.
The LOTR Extended Cut DVDs were packed with features. Blu Ray should follow this example. However, I have not upgraded my Extended Cut DVDs to Blu Rays, as the films are still spread over 2 discs despite Blu Ray boasting 5 times the storage space. King Kong managed both theatrical and extended versions on 1 disc, I'm sure EV/Warners can do the same with LOTR Extended Cuts, but until they do I don't know many people who'd buy them. Until studios stop trying milk us dry of all our cash, people will prefer to rent than buy.

30 leafie
Posted on Friday September 6, 2013, 16:31
I have to say - a directors commentary is a deal breker for me - if i can't get a blu-ray with at least a directors commentary on - i wait for it to hit the sales - or by it on dvd. Blu-ray have lost a lor of custom from me. There must be others out there like me too.

31 dazzb65
Posted on Saturday September 7, 2013, 03:17
I consider myself a movie collector (completist if you like) who wants to collect and own movies and view and listen to movies in their best possible "light' thus in the best possible format that they exist in and also have as much information and background on each particular movie that I can have direct access to.

This is the driving force behind my desire to own DVD/Blu Ray.

For my fellow "collector" out there, my fellow "completist" out there, "exclusive content" and studios attitude towards Blu Ray IS a worrying trend.

Please read this quote from SCREEN RANT from Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito regarding Marvel's policy on "exclusive content" from . Unfortunately, it does nothing to dispel our fears:

"Every Marvel Studios home video release after Iron Man 2 has, as Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito told us last year, used exclusive content to promote home video sales. It’s something they’ve found in their research is more valuable to consumers than the standard extra features. "


Happy collecting "collectors", while we still can.

32 joevideo
Posted on Saturday September 7, 2013, 07:20
one more perspective here. Great Article btw.

As someone who has a DVD player in every room (and they all work), i have no reason to upgrade to blu ray (i have all SDTV's also; they all have been working for 10 plus years). I buy the DVD releases when I do buy, and/or the blu ray/dvd combo if thats the only choice. so i have a ton of unplayed blu ray discs sitting in the cases with the played DVD ones.

Like others have posted here, i may watch a special feature once or twice, or never. The quality of the movie is most important to me. If its one i treasure, i'll buy it, because the title may be on netflix today and gone tomorrow when its licensing deal expires. Otherwise, like others have also said, the $8 a month for Netflix to keep us constantly exposed to movies never seen is enough entertainment for me.

I have no issue with blu ray; if i needed to upgrade my gear, i would, but the old stuff works really well long term. That, and this nagging feeling that once i buy it, there will be some new format that everything migrates to and the studios will again try to sell me "upgraded" versions of movies i already own on other formats. (star wars, anyone?)

33 drawmyfoot
Posted on Saturday September 7, 2013, 16:46
Great article, such a shame it had to be written...

I love good extras for a film, I will happily pore over every last detail of every featurette, deleted scene and commentary, largely because I find them mostly fascinating and they're a damn sight better than whatever tripe the TV stations are wasting my TV "license" (tax) on.
I've even been known to buy the disc of a film I only moderately enjoyed if it looks like there's some interesting bonus content.

Heck, I actually bought two versions of Avengers (UK & US) just to listen to the Whedon commentary.

So yeah, you could say I'm something of an extras nerd. And proud!

Which has always been part of the reason I don't personally DL films, as well as the fact that I like having the physical thing to hold in my hand, and mostly because I believe in paying for something that I will enjoy, so more of the same will hopefully be made (case in point, I've just got around to buying Dredd on blu ray, really enjoyed the film and would love a sequel to be made and, of course, I'm looking forward to checking out the extras!)

Full disclosure time, I'm no angel. Friends of mine do DL films and I've taken copies but I've never done it myself and if I enjoy the film I will delete the file and purchase it when it comes available. I look at it as "try before I buy."

I have a copy of Iron Man 3 but I will be shoving innocent people aside to get my physical copy on Monday and I will be diving straight into the special features as soon as possible. (I really hope IM3 doesn't follow STID's lead on features- must remember to check when I'm done wittering on.)

But, although I have purchased ONE copy of STID there is no way I'm shelling out for three and the iTunes version just for the commentary, so I'm genuinely considering asking my friends where they DL films just to see the bonus features. I'd not even consider it were it not for this silly move.

I would pay a few quid extra for all the features, just fyi, studios...

34 chrispdaniel
Posted on Sunday September 8, 2013, 20:22
If hard copies of films are cast aside, film fans such as myself who have a slow internet connection (mine is a mighty 1.2mbps) are going to be screwed, as the quality of the video I watch is blocky and constantly interrupted for buffering (this even applies to music videos on YouTube). Even though I am a LoveFilm subscriber, I would much rather order a blu-ray through the post than stream it online.

The quality of blu-ray is outstanding, and despite my local Vue cinema in Hull being all digital (it was the first all-digital cinema in Europe fact fans) I swear it is not as good as the quality of picture on my blu-ray player and HD TV.

Like many, I am frustrated with the lack of features on both blu-ray and DVD in recent times. I'm not interested in commentaries (I don't like people talking over movies, even if it is the director), but love the insight given in special features, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. The best example I can think of this in recent years is the Hunger Games blu-ray, with Gary Ross providing great insight, knowledge and his experience of film-making not just on the Hunger Games, but past experience. It is a treat. But most films nowadays are paltry. Say what you will of the Phantom Menace, but the extra features on that bonus disc dvd were extensive. I can't imagine Star Wars 7 will have anything near as comprehensive, either on DVD, blu-ray, or if you buy all the special editions, re-releases, itunes content etc.

Given the quality of many pirate dvd's these days, studios are hardly providing people with an incentive to purchase their product when the special features are so poor. If all you get is the film, why not get 5 bootleg films for £10 at a local car boot? What are the studios/distributors thinking?

35 Smike
Posted on Monday September 9, 2013, 23:14
I really had to sign up for commenting on this interesting but essentially flawed article.

I presume it's save to say that there are at least three kinds of customers regarding movies and TV shows:

1. The casual film watcher interested in watching stuff once and maybe keep a copy of some "personal classics" to rewatch them at some point. He doesn't really collect films but uses them like food, tissue paper or newspapers. He's the guy that used to rent most stuff in rental stores or taped some stuff for one-time viewing on free TV. These days he goes with VOD or harddrive recorders, maybe buying 10 cheap DVDs of special films every now and then.

2. Then there is the huge movie buff who loves to archive his favourite TV shows but doesn't really care about picture quality, packaging etc. That's the guy who used to record Xena and Charmed on VHS and kept them, no matter how bad the old tapes might have gotten over the years. He has probably replaced some of his favourite VHS collection by nice-priced DVDs by now, but not all of them at once, but step by step...

3. Then there is the high-end user who always wanted to have the best as quickly as possible. First he went with retail VHS, then he bought DVDs twice or thrice because he wanted to have the special collector's edition in steelbook packaging and now he has already replaced most of his collection by Blu-Ray media books and steelbooks and yes, he will even fall for the "Mastered in 4k" 1080p update.

Guy #1 has got VOD now, Guy #2 will be happily enjoying his old tapes and DVDs, getting now stuff somehow from the web or on special price DVDs, but Guy #3 is the one Blu-Ray has been invented for...

Guy #3 will never be happy with Guy #2's less-than-standard collection and he certainly will never want to adopt Guy #1's throw-away attitude towards movies and TV. So he WILL continue buying Blu-Ray, no matter how lackluster the special features are.

So the Studios simply CAN'T kill Blu-Ray by leaving out some specials because Guy #3 won’t have any acceptable option. This is why the studios simply don’t care. They know there will always be those who must own it in the best available format and as “real” optical hardware. For lots of people, mere data or access to media is not an option. A guy who never used a rental store wouldn’t be contented with VOD!

Now here comes my biggest problem with your article. You state that BD is supposed to sell 70% or more to eventually entirely replace DVD. Actually I’m surprised BD sales have gone up to 50% by now. Surprised because I never thought of it as the next logical step for everyone but only for those who either really care about films or at least picture quality, which is NOT everyone interested in films but only a small section of the potential customers.
Now IF the studios really plan to kill off BD, they HAVE to introduce a new, even better high-end format for those who want to own best quality, our Guy #3. Let’s call it UHD or 4K but there will be another optical medium for such quality at some point in the not too far away future. That might replace BD at some point or it might actually be an enhanced form of the BD (like 3DBD has been lately), but it will happen because Guy #3 isn’t going to go anywhere.
Our Guy #1 wouldn’t really care, despite renting some UHD highlights for one-time watching, our Guy #2 might actually revamp his collection with 3-Pound-BD bargains but our Guy #3 will always go for the best to OWN. So even if UHD streaming was possible at some point, Guy #3 would not be happy with it. He would always go for the one to collect even if there aren’t any special features on the disc.
Also you shouldn’t overestimate the importance of special features. Yeah, some people do care for them, but not even all the freaks (Trekkies, Warsis, you name them) would agree on their actual importance. Yeah, some people who are really into the technical aspects of movie-making go for that stuff, others love the actors so much they need to see them babbling about the background stories and making-of. But in the end, all these special features have one thing in common: they deconstruct the films and series, suspending any suspense of disbelief, showing that they are nothing more but sophisticated products. This is why a lot of freaks and escapists are unwilling to let audio commentary, making-of featurettes and other stuff spoil the illusion!
Lots of people would rather have the perfect UHD film experience without any specials than an inferior version, be it download, VOD or DVD with access to lots of specials. For them, even a barebone BD / 4K medium would be highly superior to any access-only material they simply cannot possess! This is why high-end purchasable hardware will live long and prosper, no matter how many VOD platforms there are. It’s simply a different target audience!

BTW: One of you called himself a former “avid collector” for having owned 800 DVDs and 150 BDs before having switched to VOD. I’m sorry, but a total of 150 BDs is hardly a “collection”, 150 Western BDs in addition to thousands from other genres, now THAT is the collection of someone who would rather blind himself than rent a DVD or watching something on Lovefilm or any other stuff that he doesn’t really own.

36 ado123
Posted on Tuesday September 10, 2013, 14:37
@Smike

Totally right.
This article is really rather trollish and not well researched. Fact remains that bluray has sold well, and every year the sales has improved, and improved substantially. The sales of home hardware has likewise improved substantially. There remains a solid market for the best version physical product - BluRay. One of the smartest things that studios have done is package DVD and Blu on one box, so you have a disc for Blu - and a DVD for your non upgraded viewing areas. The profit break on physical discs is substantial, and there is no reason in the universe for the studio to be interested in killing off the sales of Blu Ray discs or combo sets.

37 dodger62
Posted on Tuesday September 10, 2013, 17:09
right on smike im guy number 3 by the way

38 Azzurro06
Posted on Tuesday September 10, 2013, 18:26
Anyone who thinks that the picture quality of DVD is even comparable to Blu-Ray must be blind. DVD looks horrendous on anything that is 50" or over.

39 ado123
Posted on Thursday September 12, 2013, 20:39
here, your entire blog post is rubbish:
From bluray DOT com.
Singulus Technologies Develops Replication Line for 100GB Blu-ray Discs
Posted September 12, 2013 02:57 PM by Webmaster

Blu-ray DiscSingulus Technologies AG announced that it has successfully developed BLULINE III, a new replication line capable of manufacturing triple-layer Blu-ray Discs with a storage capacity of 100GB. The BLULINE III will allow the production of next generation optical discs using the current BLULINE II machines for dual-layer Blu-ray Discs.

Following the announcement Dr.-Ing. Stefan Rinck, Chief Executive Officer of Singulus Technologies AG, commented: "Just in time for the market introduction of the new ultra-high definition television technology (4K or Ultra-HD), we completed the development of the production technology for the new triple-layer Blu-ray Discs with 100GB storage capacity. For Singulus Technologies AG, in the Optical Disc segment the year 2013 has been very positive overall. Until the end of this year's August we received significantly more orders for Blu-ray Disc production machines than in the prior-year period. We also see good opportunities for the sales of our Blu-ray production equipment in the future. The positive life cycle of the Blu-ray Disc will continue for some years with the launch of the new ultra-high definition television format".

The following information was also provided with the official announcement:

"The further advancement of today's Blu-ray Discs, the triple-layer Blu-ray Discs with 100GB storage capacity, is the preferred playback medium for the new 4K technology. With the realization of a new and specifically designed data compression method for the ultra-high definition technology, the storage volume per information layer can be increased from 25GB to 33GB. In its committees, the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) is currently discussing the specifications of new, global standards. Singulus Technologies already completed the marketable concept of a new replication line.

At the IFA 2013 media and technology companies provide insights into the future of television: Sky, Astra, Sony, Harmonic, the Fraunhofer Heinrich-Hertz-Institute and the German TV-Platform present ultra-high definition. The new generation of high definition television provides four times the resolution (3,840 x 2,560 pixels) of HDTV. 4K will become less expensive: in Berlin a Chinese manufacturer is presenting new Ultra-HD TVs with a price tag of less than €2,000.

In the 1st half of 2013 Blu-ray Disc sales increased by 41 % compared with the same period one year ago (German Association of Audio-Visual Media (BVV), August 2013). With a share of more than 90 %, physical media (Blu-ray and DVD) also continue to dominate sales in the home entertainment market in 2013. Blu-ray Disc sales in the U.S., the international key market, will expand with a double-digit growth rate in 2013. This favorable trend is amplified by the market launch of the new ultra-high definition television technology and the upcoming market introduction of the new gaming consoles Playstation PS4 by Sony and Microsoft's Xbox One. Both gaming consoles are even expected to be equipped with a Blu-ray drive with 4K support to win the consumers' favor. At several gaming conventions and the IFA, the two new consoles were a highlight."

40 deep black
Posted on Sunday September 15, 2013, 11:53
Using the same technology as Blu ray discs, but making them nine inches across, you get four times the area and storage space and so you get the same running time with the 2160 x 3840 format.

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